|Bembridge House in Long Beach|
January 24, 2014 – Hoping to bring a tax savings in Long Beach to those who own historical properties, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske is asking City management for an update on how Long Beach can offer the “Mills Act Historical Property Contract Program” that allows qualifying owners to receive a potential property tax reduction and use the savings to help rehabilitate, restore and maintain their buildings. The Mills Act is the single most important economic incentive program in California for the restoration and preservation of historic buildings by private property owners. Enacted in 1972, the Mills Act legislation grants participating local governments (cities and counties) authority to enter into contracts with owners of qualified historic properties who actively participate in the restoration and maintenance of their properties to receive property tax relief.
“The City of Long Beach stopped offering contracts to property owners in 2006 because of the economy and the loss of property tax revenues,” explains Schipske. “It is time to reinstate this program as a way of encouraging the rehabilitation and maintenance of the historical and architectural character of many of our neighborhoods throughout the city.”
A formal agreement, generally known as a Mills Act or Historical Property Contract, is executed between cities and the property owner for a revolving ten-year term. Contracts are automatically renewed each year so that the term of the contract always extends for ten years. Property owners agree to restore, maintain, and protect the property in accordance with specific historic preservation standards and conditions identified in the contract. Mills Act participants may realize substantial property tax savings each year for recently improved or purchased older properties.
Schipske’s agenda item will be considered by the City Council at its February 4th meeting. Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske is the author of three books on the history of Long Beach and believes that the city needs to do what it can to help preserve the historical and architectural character of the city. She also supports reinstating the vacant city-funded position of Historic Preservation Officer.